Fitness is at the forefront of a lot of people’s mind this January. Actors and actresses looking to make a few quid are regurgitating nutrition and training advice. Cringe-worthy television programmes endorsing questionable dieting approaches. Fitness clothes are being worn as casual wear and celebrity chefs are posting workout selfies and selling diet books.

Not all of these are bad. However, one approach that really gets our goat is the dreaded ‘detox cleanse’. The general approach for detox diets is typically a period of fasting followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, and water. The belief is that this approach will help clear your body of toxins and, in turn, help you lose weight.

If anyone suggests this cleanse approach, simply ask, “What toxins will I be cleansed of?” Nine times out of ten, then have no idea. ‘Toxin’ is a catch all word wrongly applied to various compounds. If you didn’t already know, your body is amazing. It is very well equipped to deal with any unwanted toxins, such as pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs and water-borne pollutants. Consuming large quantities of blended fruit and vegetables won’t speed this process up.

This all takes place in your liver. Toxins enter the body in food, water, through the skin and by inhalation. They end up in our bloodstream and our liver filters the blood to remove them. Simple.

Many may argue that ‘the scales never lie’. Sadly, they do. Detox cleanses may have led to many quick weight loss results. But let me explain what happens as a result of this diet:

  • Your carbohydrate intake drops substantially. You will instantly lose a lot of water weight. Sorry to break it to you, but this water weight will be put straight back on once you return to ‘normal’ eating habits.

  • Large drop in protein consumption. Fruit and vegetables contain very small amounts of protein. Your body needs protein for growth and repair so it will resort to breaking down muscle tissue to get to it. Some may mistake this for fat loss. This also makes it harder for you to keep fat off once you finish your ‘cleanse’.

So by all means, build juices into a healthy diet that contains all of the micro/macronutrients that the body needs. Use the odd juice drink as a way of increasing nutrient intake and getting a bit more fibre into your system. But please don’t do anything crazy that involves cutting out food groups.

A general rule we like to follow: If any diet approach tells you to completely exclude a food group, stay well clear!